One out of every two West Virginia children lives in a family that doesn’t make enough money to make ends meet.
Our generation is fighting over fewer jobs, and those jobs pay less and are harder to get than a generation ago. Meanwhile, costs for the average family have skyrocketed. And the institutions we used to rely on (churches, schools, unions, associations) are crumbling. Is it any wonder that substance abuse and divorce rates are at all-time highs?
Our state badly needs more educated, solution-oriented voters like you, if we are going to do right by our kids.
Our Children, Our Future is a non-partisan alliance – of congregations, service agencies, unions, chambers of commerce, community groups, youth organizations, and advocacy groups – that’s determined to make West Virginia the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family, no matter who you are.
Our vision is broad, but our strategy is specific.
We recruit, train, and unite West Virginia citizens around common-sense policy reforms, and then mobilize to get those reforms passed.
Every one of our victories achieved majority support from Republican and Democrat lawmakers.
This year, we are producing a different kind of voter guide.
We aren’t asking West Virginia voters to cast their ballot for one party, or one candidate. We are not handing out endorsements.
Most voter guides ask candidates where they stand on a handful of issues that have come up in the past. Our voter guide asked candidates where they stand on 59 policy proposals, almost all of which are new.
We spent more than a year crafting policy proposals, from the ground up. Republican and Democrat lawmakers, labor unions and the WV Chamber of Commerce, The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and WV FREE, pro-cannabis and substance abuse prevention advocates – all these groups contributed ideas to the final questionnaire.
We believe that our state needs new ideas, and needs people working together who don’t always agree.
We hoped that at least 50 candidates would respond. In the end, we had 115 – and they came from every party, incumbents and challengers.
Over and over, we saw Democrats, Republicans, Mountain and Libertarian candidates doing something they don’t often do: agreeing.
A dozen proposals won nearly unanimous support. For 38 of the proposals, more than 75 percent of candidates said they would “support” or “champion.” Only 2 of the 59 proposals had less than 50 percent support, and even for those, the responses were mostly “not sure” – with candidates saying they wanted more information.
This is exactly what the Our Children, Our Future Campaign is all about. This voter guide reminds us that what brings us together is greater than what tears us apart.
It also reminds us that our state needs folks in public office who are more interested in solving problems than re-hashing disagreements. Imagine a legislature that starts off in 2016 by passing those 38 proposals – from an Opioid Tax to pay for treatment centers and programs to curb youth incarceration, to transitional jobs programs for coal families and infrastructure investments.
What’s more: we worked hard to make sure that all of these proposals were not just pie-in-the-sky. These 59 proposals are revenue neutral. Some cost money (an Earned Income Tax Credit), some generate revenue (like closing tax loopholes), and some are revenue neutral or self-funding (roads investments through modernizing fees and tools).
You can download the voter guide now at ocofwv.org. It’s free. We encourage you to share it on-line, print it out, whatever you like.
We promise that you won’t get every answer you are looking for – our coalition doesn’t work on issues like abortion or gun control, for instance. But we hope you will find it useful.
Most important, we hope it encourages you to take action. We’re always looking for more volunteers to knock on doors, or organize candidate forums, or advocate for the issues that matter to you. We’re always looking for the next great policy idea, so that our next voter guide and issue platform will be even better.
History tells us that change is not going to come from any one political party, or government program, or outside company. It’s going to come from us.